At least one former member of the Dallas Mavericks dance team is politely calling bull to the team’s new policies regarding its cheerleaders.
Kathryn Dunn, who was a Mavs dancer from 2013 to ‘16, and was a featured member in the Mavs dancers calendar, blasted the changes the team’s CEO, Cynthia Marshall, announced to The Dallas Morning News; those changes include outfits that are less revealing, and more “wholesome routines.”
“It seems like a PR stunt to show, ‘Hey, look! We’re changing for the better!’ because they know that a headline about dancers is more controversial than, ‘Hey, we’re going to provide stricter background checks on potential employees and hold our current employees to higher standards,’” she wrote in a text message.
Dunn isn’t dumb, and neither are the current Mavs dancers.
They can clearly see what’s going on, and while they exist to enhance the overall Mavs’ brand, image and in-game experience now they are being used to strengthen the notion that the team is improving its attitudes and treatment of women in their workplace.
Only the Mavs’ issue with females was never about cheerleaders.
In February, Sports Illustrated published a damning report about the Mavs’ front office “culture” which included retaining the team’s website writer, Earl Sneed, who had been accused of domestic violence. Sneed was fired immediately after the report was published.
Also included in that report were tales of raunchy behaviors from front office employees, most notably former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery, who left the team in 2015.
Since the report was published, the Mavs and team owner Mark Cuban have gone into full-spin, and organizational “evaluation.”
“I think it’s irresponsible of them to think that the Mavs Dancers have had any kind of effect on the front office and Earl Sneed’s history of domestic violence,” Dunn wrote. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dressing modest or changing the style of dance, but I’m offended by the reason behind it. While dancing for the Mavs, I never once felt degraded or objectified by my body, and certainly never felt like I was in danger of any kind (other than the fact that we don’t have security walking to our cars after the games).”
The change to the dance team, which will also include ending its Mavs Dancers calendar promotion, is one element.
Dunn, for one, isn’t buying it.
“The dancers are NEVER in the front office, ever,” Dunn wrote. “The only times we go is to pick up squad photos and even then we barely get past the front desk. So we really don’t have any effect on them whatsoever.
“If the Mavs want to do something about encouraging a better culture, consider hiring them on as full-time marketing team, giving them insurance benefits, paying them what they’re worth (sometimes they rotate game pay so not everyone is getting paid. Some are working for free and don’t realize it until their checks go through). If they want to respect the dancers, it goes beyond changing their uniforms and dance style.”
She’s right; how professional dancers dress and dance has zero impact on the Dallas Mavericks, or any professional sport team, and the respective behaviors of members of the front office.
Dressing a professional dancer in more “athletic wear” and eliminating a sexy calendar doesn’t change much, but it looks good as a point of sale on “improved attitudes towards women.”
Such a move simply satiate the “angries” who simply want to be angry without knowing, or caring, about the real problem.
Not in direct response to Dunn’s words, Marshall did issue a statement: “The Mavs Dancers, and all of our entertainment groups, are a part of the Mavericks family. They are also a part of this culture transformation and will live by the same mission, vision and values that any Mavs staff member or player will live by. When I came into the Mavs organization, I said that the Dallas Mavericks will be the NBA standard for diversity and inclusion by 2019 — and I believe that the Dancers are a big part of that. We want our Mavs Dancers and all of our entertainment groups to continue to be the best in the NBA, on and off the court and in the community.”
The real problem isn’t a dance outfit or a dance routine but behavior and language, and treatment, of female colleagues in the work place by men.
Tweaking a few particulars about a dance team is a prop move.